Laura Walters of Newsroom reports:
A war of words is raging over the war on drugs, as the Health Select Committee reports back on the most significant piece of drug reform legislation in 40 years.
The parties are divided over a single, but significant, clause in the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill, which enshrines police discretion over prosecution, and prioritises therapeutic options when dealing with possession and personal use of controlled drugs. …
In recent months, there has been a back and forth between National, Labour and the Green Party over whether the proposed legislation will effectively decriminalise drugs.
Labour, including the Prime Minister and the Health Minister, have pushed back on National’s categorisation that this bill creates “de facto decriminalisation by stealth”, saying it doesn’t take away the power to prosecute, and police would do so when needed.
So the PM and Minister both claim it is not de facto decriminalisation. But what do others say?
National Party health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse sits on the health committee and was there when the NZ Drug Foundation, Police Association, psychiatrists and lawyers agreed the bill would essentially decriminalise personal possession and use – regardless of what the Prime Minister says.
So this is decriminalisation but Labour are trying to fool everyone that it isn’t.
I actually support decriminalisation or even better legalisation. But I don’t support trying to con people that a law change isn’t what it is.
Meanwhile, Rotorua lawyer Chris Macklin, representing the Law Society, said he could not think of a single case where police could argue they should prosecute someone for possession of a drug for personal use, under proposed legislation.
No-one who came before the select committee said there could be a case made for a criminal prosecution over a therapeutic approach – regardless of what services were available, Woodhouse said.
If the Government was decriminalising the use of controlled substances, which included meth, synthetics and heroin, there needed to be a wider public debate, rather than slipping it through in this piece of legislation, he said.
So not just cannabis, but also P?